El Paso Metro
It was announced on Thursday that various groups opposed to the 11.8% tax hike proposed by Mayor Ray Caballero have come together under the banner of El Paso Fights Back Coalition. A recent El Paso Times/KVIA Poll indicated that two-thirds of El Paso’s registered voters oppose the tax increase. The poll had an error margin of 6%. Theresa Caballero, an anti-tax activist, announced the formation of the group in front of city chambers commenting, “We have come to reclaim the seat of local government on behalf of voters and taxpayers.” She was flanked by representatives of Citizens for Good Government, United Taxpayers of El Paso and Citizens for Total Recall.
On Tuesday, a group of citizens supporting Mayor Ray Caballero’s 11.8% tax hike announced the formation of a Political Action Committee to push the increase. Theresa Caballero added, “The Mayor’s friends announced the formation of a PAC. Their organization has plenty of money and they’ll be bombarding you soon with Radio and TV ads telling you that we need the 11.8% tax increase. We, on the other hand, are a grassroots association of average homeowners and taxpayers who believe that the Mayor has been deceiving the public when he tells them El Paso cannot survive without an 11.8% tax increase.”
The Coalition plans to have volunteers at various places of business over the course of the next 6 Saturdays to collect signatures. The group has collected 18,000 signatures and needs another 18,000 to meet the legal requirement for a rollback election.
The El Paso Times ran a story on Thursday that confirmed that the City of El Paso had sued Paul Strelzin, a controversial radio commentator, for failure to pay back taxes. Paul Strelzin blamed his failure to pay his property taxes on the cost of his children’s college education although it was not clear that any of his children are still in school. Although, it is not permitted to serve on boards if an appointee owes back taxes, Strelzin continues to serve on the Cable Commission to which he was appointed by Representative Jan Sumrall.
Strelzin has been an ardent supporter of the Caballero 11.8% tax increase and the Mayor has been a frequent guest on his talk show. This controversy comes on the heels of questions raised by another appointee that has a lawsuit pending against the City of El Paso and alleged multiple homestead exemptions.
On Friday, the El Paso Fights Back Coalition accused the El Paso Times of bias asserting that the Times had repeatedly written editorials opposing the rollback and supporting the Caballero 11.8% tax. The Times failed to publish a copy of the rollback petition contracted by United Taxpayers of El Paso and a few days later ran a prominent story on the formation of a PAC to support the Caballero 11.8% tax increase.